Where Anthropology Meets History—A Review of "Tracing China: A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey," by Helen F. Siu

Helen F. Siu. Tracing China: A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9789888083732.
 

For years, Helen Siu tangoed with history and trekked the fields of South China. Tracing China: A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey (Hong Kong University Press, 2016)—a collection of Siu’s work published over the last twenty years—is not a grandiose showpiece splotched with a lot of paint and colors. Instead, she uses a 2B pencil to leave fine marks on wafer-thin parchment and smudges them ever so slightly, gradually letting the image emerge through the back of the page. If I have understood correctly, though plurality exists in the meanings of “trace,” Siu’s intention with the title Tracing China is less to track the history of China, and more to scrupulously examine every footstep she comes across, no matter how indistinct—to “look for plum blossoms in the snow,” as the Chinese saying goes. This saying might have inspired the Chinese version of the title of the collection, one that preserves a sense of graceful subtlety...

 

Where Anthropology Meets History—A Review of "Tracing China: A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey," by Helen F. Siu

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